Today’s prompt: Let It Be. What’s something that bothers you or weighs on you? Let it go. Talk out the letting go process and how you’re going to be better to yourself for it.
This is the prompt I have been dreading and while I have the option to ignore it or fake it, I think I will take the option to let it be by opening up about it. So, here goes.
Before my bother became ill last year, I had worked for a law firm that represented asbestos corporation defendants. I never thought much of it at the time because I wasn’t very close to the cases. The attorneys handling these cases did most the work and most of what I did was just sending out documents to courts and to attorneys involved. Then, one day the words “peritoneal mesothelioma” were uttered and I knew that the days of my not knowing about those cases were over. Everyone case file that I came across suddenly had meaning. The names had faces and they had families. Less than three months after I lost my brother, I left the law firm and went to work for a real estate company because I could not take another day that was a reminder of a disease that killed my brother. My former law firm represented asbestos corporations who, in my opinion, didn’t deserve anything more than criminal punishment. My ability to remain impartial was compromised and my previous position was reminder daily that my brother was gone because I could no longer ignore what was in front of me.
Now, mesothelioma has a face and I am reminded almost daily of that. When I hear about a newly diagnosed patient or someone who has lost their life to the disease, it makes me sad and it brings back memories of my brother’s very painful illness. It angers more than any other cancer out there because in my mind, it is manmade. In a way, we created it by our use and overuse of asbestos. Earlier this week, Anita Steiner’s battle with mesothelioma ended. She was only 49 years old and had a young daughter who is probably young enough that she won’t remember her mother. She is another reminder of the cost that we pay when we allow industries to dictate our lives whether it is through legislation or whether through the products we use daily.
It bothers me that asbestos is still legal and that young people like my brother and Anita have to lose their lives when they didn’t even work in asbestos related industries. Most likely, their exposure happened when they were children. Asbestos corporations get away with continuing to use asbestos despite their knowledge of its effect on people and that really angers me. What kind of society are we that we allow people to knowingly cause harm and then we let them get away with it. If you intentionally crash your car and kill someone, you are charged with murder and you are either in prison or on death row. However, if you knowingly expose people to asbestos and they become sick and die as a result, you are fined and dealt with by civil courts. Really, where is the justice in that?
It angers me that corporations get nothing but a slap on the wrist and federal legislation does not even allow for victims and their families to be compensated fairly for sickness, loss of life and loss of income. While there is some legislation that has been proposed for banning asbestos, none has become law. The inability to pass laws is because powerful lobbying protects asbestos corporations. There are 55 countries around the world that have already banned asbestos use but the United States, the most powerful country in the world, is yet to take a stand on this. Instead, we allow protection for asbestos corporations.
Letting go of this issue has been difficult for me especially now as it is going on a year since we lost my brother. It was the day before Thanksgiving last year that he went into to surgery so that they could attempt to remove the cancer. Less than a month later, he was gone. While there is a lot I can do this through activism, letting the issue stress me is not good for me nor does it bring my brother back so for the time being, I am going to let it be. Letting go of its effect on me will allow me to focus on more pressing things in my life. I miss my brother and I hate that he is gone but I love him enough to spend less time being angry and more time being thankful. I have my children and my amazing wonderful family. I am so grateful for that every day.